HERBERT, Sir Philip (1584-1650), of Wilton House, Wilts.; later of Enfield House, Enfield, Mdx. and The Cockpit, Westminster.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1604 - 4 May 1605
Apr. 1649 - 23 Jan. 1650

Family and Education

b. 10 Oct. 1584, 2nd s. of Henry Herbert, 2nd earl of Pembroke (d.1601) ld. pres. of Wales 1586-d., and 3rd w. Mary, da. of (Sir) Henry Sidney† of London and Penshurst, Kent.1 educ. New Coll., Oxf. 1593, MA 1605.2 m. (1) 27 Dec. 1604, Susan (bur. 1 Feb. 1629), da. and coh. of Edward de Vere, 17th earl of Oxford, 7s. (4 d.v.p.) 3da. (at least 1 d.v.p.);3 (2) 3 June 1630, Anne (d. 22 Mar. 1676), da. and h. of George Clifford, 3rd earl of Cumberland, wid. of Richard Sackville, 3rd earl of Dorset (d.1624), 2s. d.v.p.4 cr. KB 25 July 1603, Bar. Herbert of Shurland and earl of Montgomery 4 May 1605, KG 18 May 1608. suc. bro. as 4th earl of Pembroke 10 Apr. 1630.5 d. 23 Jan. 1650.6

Offices Held

Freeman, Southampton, Hants 1603;7 chan. and chamberlain, N. Wales (Anglesey, Caern. and Merion.) 1605-?d.;8 constable, Montgomery castle, Mont. 1606-17, Queenborough Castle, Kent 1617-d., Monmouth, Whitecastle, Grosmont and Skenfrith castles, Mon. 1630-d., Windsor Castle 1648-d.;9 kpr. Windsor forest, Berks. 1611, York Place, Westminster 1616-d., Whitehall and Spring Gardens, Mdx. 1616-d.;10 steward, Woodstock and Wotton, Oxon. by 1614, Westminster 1628-d., Devizes, Wilts., Brecon and Dinas, Brecs., Monmouth and Grosmont, Mon., duchy of Cornw. 1630-d., Exeter, Devon 1635, cantref Melienydd, Rad. 1637;11 j.p. Oxon. 1616-42, Mdx. 1626-?d., Kent (custos rot.) 1625-?d.,12 Westminster 1628-?d. (custos rot. 1628-9), Cornw. (custos rot.) 1630-42, Mont. 1630-43 (custos rot. 1641-3), Pemb. 1630-d. (custos rot. 1630-43, 1647-d.), Glam., Mon. (custos rot.) 1630-c.1643, ?1649-d., Wilts. 1631-d. (custos rot. 1650), Merion., Caern., Denb., Flint, Rad. 1649-d., Derbys. (custos rot.) 1650;13 commr. oyer and terminer, Wales 1616-at least 1640;14 Member, Council in the Marches 1617-42;15 commr. subsidy, Kent 1624;16 ld. lt. Kent 1624-42, Bucks. 1628-33, Som. 1630-39 (sole) 1639-40 (jt.), Cornw., 1630-42, Wilts. 1630-42, Brecs., Caern., Glam., Hants, Mon., Merion. 1642;17 commr. Forced Loan, Mdx. and Kent 1626-7,18 execution of martial law, Kent 1626,19 raising money for defence and assistance of allies 1628;20 ld. warden of the Stannaries, Cornw. 1630-?d.;21 v. adm. S. Wales 1630-d., Hants 1644-7, 1649-d.;22 commr. survey, Chapel Royal 1632,23 sewers, Kent 1639,24 assessment, Wilts. 1644, 1649, Hants, Yorks., Westmld. 1645, Glam. 1649, ct. martial, London and Westminster 1644, Admlty. 1645, excise 1645, abuses in heraldry 1646, admin. of the sacrament 1646, compounding with delinquents 1647, indemnity 1647, militia, Glos., Brecs., Glam., Mon. Hants, Som., Wilts. and northern cos. 1648, drainage of the Fens 1649, sale of bps.’ lands 1649.25

Gent. of privy chamber 1603,26 bedchamber by 1616,27 ld. chamberlain 1626-41.28

Member, Virg. Co. 1609 (cllr. by 1610), E.I. Co. 1611, N.W. Passage Co. 1612, Eastland Co. 1625, Guiana Co. 1627; cllr., Fishery Soc. 1630, gov., Mineral and Battery Co. 1630-d.;29 patentee, glass manufacture 1615.30

High Steward, Oxf. Univ. 1615-41, chan. 1641-3, 1647-d.,31 gov. Westminster sch. 1649-d.32

PC, 1624-42, [S] 1641;33 commr. abuses in office of Robes 1626, 1628,34 St. Paul’s Cathedral repair 1631,35 inheritance of manors [I] 1632;36 execution of poor laws 1632,37 member, Council of War 1637;38 commr. treaty negotiations, Ripon 1640, Uxbridge 1645, Newcastle 1646, Newport 1648;39 member, Westminster Assembly of Divines 1642;40 commr., defence of Ireland 1642,41 plantations 1642,42 W. Indies 1643;43 cttee. Both Kingdoms 1648-d.,44 Council of State 1649-d.45

Capt.-gen., king’s Lifeguard of Horse 1639,46 capt.-gen. (parl.), Cornw., Dorset, Hants, Som., Wilts. 1642;47 gov. (parl.), I.o.W. 1642-7.48


Described by his second wife as a man of ‘very quick apprehension, a sharp understanding, very crafty withal and of a discerning spirit, but extremely choleric by nature’, Herbert’s meteoric rise under James I saw him become one of the most influential councillors in the kingdom.49 He and his elder brother, William, 3rd earl of Pembroke, constituted a formidable counterbalance to the pro-Spanish faction at Court under the early Stuarts. His identification with the Protestant interest and his close association with the Court, wherein he was ‘bred from his cradle’, allowed him to balance his status as ‘one of the greatest men of his time in England’ with being ‘generally throughout the kingdom very well beloved.’50

Herbert’s paternal grandfather, William Herbert†, became brother-in-law to Henry VIII through his marriage to Catherine Parr’s sister. This connection brought him the lands of the dissolved monastery of Wilton upon which he built the family mansion. William’s extensive acquisitions in Wales, along with his support of Robert Dudley, earl of Warwick against Protector Somerset, saw him appointed lord president of Wales and raised to the ancient earldom of Pembroke. His son, the 2nd earl, also acquired the presidency, which he held until his death in 1601. At the age of nine, Philip, the 2nd earl’s younger son by his marriage to Mary Sidney, attended university with his brother William. He remained there only for a few months, however, which may account for Wood’s characterization of him as ‘illiterate’ and ‘a most passionate enemy of learning’.51 His early departure from university served to allow him to be educated in the ways of the Court, for he was already adjudged ‘fittest for that kind of life’.52

Herbert made his first appearance at Court in 1600, when Rowland Whyte remarked that he was ‘one of the forwardest courtiers that ever I saw’.53 His good looks, athleticism and passion for hunting appealed more directly to the tastes of King James than Elizabeth, and it was in the new reign that he began to rise rapidly in royal favour, Clarendon (Edward Hyde†) recalling that Herbert was ‘the first who drew the king’s eyes towards him with affection, which was quickly so far improved that he had the reputation of a favourite’.54 His close relationship with the king soon brought him financial rewards, beginning in 1604 with the grant of a lucrative licence to export unfinished broadcloths.55 Later that year Herbert’s place at Court was cemented by marriage, ‘after long love and many changes’, to Susan de Vere, daughter of the earl of Oxford. This allied him to the powerful interest of Viscount Cranborne (Robert Cecil†), the bride’s uncle, who was initially said to be ‘much troubled’ by the marriage, but was soon mollified by King James.56 The ceremony was performed at Court ‘with as much ceremony and grace as could be done a favourite’, the king giving away the bride and bestowing upon the couple lands worth around £1,200 p.a. in the Isle of Sheppey. It was also reported that James spent an hour with the couple the morning after the marriage, Dudley Carleton* adding wryly ‘in the bed or upon, choose which you believe best’.57 Herbert’s close alliance with the king and his ecumenical style of distributing favour, coupled with the bride’s ties to Cranborne, appear briefly to have united the Court around him.58

It was during this period of rapid ascent that Herbert was returned for Glamorgan to the first Jacobean Parliament. His family’s landed interest in the county was unrivalled, and his path to the seat must also have been smoothed by the fact that Sir Thomas Mansell*, head of the most powerful gentry family in the county, was sheriff, and so disabled from standing himself. Herbert almost certainly pursued the seat for its honorific value only, although it is possible that the king had hopes for him as a loyal dependant in the Commons who could promote policies such as the Union. If this was the case he was to be disappointed, for Herbert’s parliamentary activity was limited to one appointment to a committee for the relief of soldiers who had fought in Ireland, and another to attend a conference with the Lords about composition for wardship (26 Mar. 1604).59 The fact that these nominations were both made on the same day suggests that this was the only time Herbert bothered to attend the Commons. His tenure as a Member was ended when James elevated him to an earldom in May 1605.

Herbert steered a cautious course at Court, allowing others to supplant him as favourite and so become the prime target for factional hostilities, while he continued to enjoy a measure of favour.60 On his deathbed James recommended Herbert to his son, who asked him to accompany the new queen from France in 1625.61 Herbert improved his position under Charles I, becoming lord chamberlain in 1626. He identified himself with the Protestant interest centred about his brother, William, 3rd earl of Pembroke, while also maintaining ties with the duke of Buckingham.62 He succeeded to his brother’s title and most of his offices in 1630, enjoying an opulent lifestyle with 80 servants at his London residence and more than 100 at Wilton. His income was estimated by John Aubrey to stand at around £30,000 p.a.63 Herbert became a rather lukewarm parliamentarian during the Civil War, but held a large number of offices, a fact which reflected his propaganda value as a popular peer. He was one of those noblemen who sat in the Rump after the Regicide, being returned at a by-election for Berkshire, which occasioned pamphlets mocking his apparent demotion from peer to burgess.64

Herbert and his brother were notable patrons of the arts, being the ‘incomparable pair of brethren’ to whom the First Folio edition of Shakespeare’s plays was dedicated. He was born into a world of rich literary associations: their uncle was Philip Sidney†, author of Arcadia, while their mother was a writer and literary patron of some note in her own right. Herbert was also a prominent sponsor of Van Dyck, who painted a group portrait of Herbert’s family which hangs at Wilton, as well as at least two likenesses of Herbert himself. According to Aubrey, Herbert possessed more of Van Dyck’s paintings than ‘any one in the world’. Wilton also housed works by Titian and Giorgione, collected on the continent by a salaried agent employed specifically for the task.65 These pursuits provided an important common interest with King Charles, who would visit Wilton every summer with a view to enjoying the collections there.66

Herbert died at his lodgings in the Cockpit, Westminster, on 23 Jan. 1650 and was buried at Salisbury Cathedral in a funeral costing £2,667.67 He made his will on 1 May 1649, describing himself as ‘sick in body’, and directed that a ‘seemly, meet and convenient’ tomb be erected ‘fit for my honour, degree and quality’. His wife received just £500 in household goods, plus the jewels she had brought to the marriage. He constituted his close associates as executors, including William (Cecil*), 2nd earl of Salisbury, (Sir) Robert Pye*, Matthew Hale†, Thomas Pury† and Michael Oldisworth*, and charged them with providing for his debts and annuities out of lands he demised in trust. He also provided handsomely for his sons James and John, but left most of his estates to his eldest son and heir, Philip, Lord Herbert, who had represented Wiltshire and Glamorgan during the Short and Long Parliaments.68

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Lloyd Bowen


  • 1. Clifford Diary, 105.
  • 2. Al. Ox.
  • 3. Lysons, ii. 318; Illustrations of Brit. Hist. ed. E. Lodge, iii. 119; Reg. Westminster Abbey ed. J.L. Chester, 128.
  • 4. R.T. Spence, Lady Anne Clifford, 93; Clifford Diary, 89.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. i. 30, 153; Clifford Diary, 106; Letters of Philip Gawdy ed. I.H. Jeayes, 154.
  • 6. Clifford Diary, 106.
  • 7. HMC Southampton, 23.
  • 8. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 226; SC6/Jas.I/1556.
  • 9. C66/1678; 66/1882/5; 66/2134/13; Lansd. 1217, f. 56; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 287; 1629-31, p. 417; CJ, v. 648; C231/4, f. 40.
  • 10. C66/1637; 66/1938/4; 66/2104/14; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 152; 1611-18, pp. 396, 425; Lansd. 1217, f. 16v; F. Devon, Issues of the Exch. 327-31.
  • 11. Liber Famelicus of Sir J. Whitelocke ed. J. Bruce (Cam. Soc. lxx.), 40; T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 395; NLW, Bute M63/1; CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 331; 1629-31, pp. 417, 553; C99/53/3; HMC Exeter, 78; Arch. Camb. (ser. 3), iii. 189.
  • 12. Cal. Assize Recs. Kent Indictments, Jas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 158.
  • 13. JPs in Wales and Monm. ed. Phillips, passim; C231/4, ff. 18, 162, 208, 257; 231/5, ff. 45, 519.
  • 14. C181/2, ff. 253v, 276v, 298v; 181/3, ff. 154, 191; 181/4, f. 162; 181/5, f. 184.
  • 15. Cal. Wynn Pprs. 130.
  • 16. C212/22/21.
  • 17. J.C. Sainty, Lords Lieutenants, 12, 15, 25, 31, 36-7; CJ, ii. 814-15; A. and O. i. 1-2.
  • 18. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 435; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, 144.
  • 19. APC, 1626, p. 221.
  • 20. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 574.
  • 21. C115/105/8072.
  • 22. Vice Admirals of the Coast comp. J.C. Sainty and A.D. Thrush (L. and I. Soc. cccxxi), 26, 62.
  • 23. Ibid. 247.
  • 24. C231/5, f. 349.
  • 25. A. and O. i. 331-2, 459, 487, 669, 691, 696, 705, 839, 852, 914, 937, 1136, 1141, 1242-6; ii 45, 47, 139, 152, 311, 314.
  • 26. Harl. 6166, f. 68v.
  • 27. Lansd. 273, f. 27v.
  • 28. Birch, i. 123; CSP Dom. 1641-3, pp. 62-3.
  • 29. T.K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire, 312; Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, iii. 29, 32; Bodl. Tanner, 72, f. 161; SP16/221/1, 15; Rymer, viii. pt. 3, p. 136; BL, Loan 16/2, f. 49.
  • 30. C66/2019/19; Som. RO, DD/PH222/99.
  • 31. Hist. Univ. Oxf. ed. N. Tyacke, 690, 708, 724; Clarendon, Hist. of the Rebellion ed. W.D. Macray, iv. 258.
  • 32. A. and O. ii. 257.
  • 33. CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 411; Reg. PC Scot. 1638-43, pp. 143-4, 480-1.
  • 34. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 582; Rymer, viii. pt. 2, p. 278.
  • 35. CSP Dom. 1631-3, p. 6.
  • 36. Rymer, viii. pt. 3, p. 211.
  • 37. PC2/42, f. 54.
  • 38. CSP Dom. 1637, pp. 86, 224.
  • 39. Clarendon, ii. 203; iii. 469, 485; CSP Dom. 1645-7, pp. 279, 454; 1648-9, p. 277; Ludlow Mems. ed. C.H. Firth, i. 139.
  • 40. A. and O. i. 181.
  • 41. Harl. 1332, f. 1.
  • 42. CSP Col. 1574-1660, p. 324.
  • 43. A. and O. i. 331-2.
  • 44. CSP Dom. 1648-9, p. 90.
  • 45. Ibid. 1649-50, p. 6; A. and O. ii. 2.
  • 46. E351/292.
  • 47. CJ, ii. 814-15.
  • 48. CJ, ii. 702; HMC 5th Rep. 162a; A. and O. i. 187.
  • 49. Clifford Diary, 105.
  • 50. Ibid. 106; Clarendon, ii. 539.
  • 51. A. Wood, Ath. Ox. ed. J. Bliss (Philip Herbert).
  • 52. Clifford Diary, 105.
  • 53. HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, ii. 457.
  • 54. Clarendon, i. 74.
  • 55. C66/1611, 1655; Lansd. 1217, ff. 5, 24v, 52; Carleton to Chamberlain ed. M. Lee, 44.
  • 56. Lodge, iii. 100; HMC Hatfield, xvi. 439.
  • 57. Carleton to Chamberlain, 66; Lodge, iii. 119; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 198.
  • 58. Lodge, iii. 103-4, 125.
  • 59. CJ, i. 153a, 154b.
  • 60. Clarendon, i. 74.
  • 61. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 22; APC, 1625-6, p. 31; Clifford Diary, 106.
  • 62. Harl. 381, f. 330; C. Russell, PEP, 113, 148n., 326.
  • 63. J. Aubrey, Nat. Hist. of Wilts. ed. J. Britton, 88; Spence, 96.
  • 64. Ludlow Mems., i. 226; Gradus Simeonis, First Fruits of Philip, Earl of Pembroke, (1649).
  • 65. Aubrey, 85, 91.
  • 66. K. Sharpe, Personal Rule of Chas. I, 162-3.
  • 67. L. Stone, Crisis of the Aristocracy, 785.
  • 68. SCL, EM 1360.